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Christian James – 2014 40 Under 40 Honoree


Christian James – 37

Chief Operating Officer
Bozeman, MT


What are the key areas of your firm that have seen the greatest change/challenge in workflow over the past few years? (Or, what are the key challenges you see firms facing?)

Xcentric’s workflow challenges are pretty similar to CPA firms in that we all benefit from ushering daily tasks and projects along in an efficient manor.  Our daily routine and projects have varying degrees of complexity, so we tend to lean towards well documented processes and project management tools to manage our workflow.  This has been incredibly beneficial during our SOC 2 engagement.

To what extent have you and your practice/company embraced cloud computing?

We’re all about Cloud Computing.  2014 marked the tenth year that Xcentric has been providing Cloud Computing to the CPA Industry.  We’ve seen the rate of adoption increase dramatically over the past three years.  We believe this is mostly driven by the fact that technology and security have become overwhelmingly complex for small to medium sized CPA firms.  Fortunately, we have a great team of computer nerds that love the complexity of keeping up with technology. 

In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it a better place?

We believe that Xcentric’s culture is the most valuable asset we have as an organization.  In light of that, as a leader in the organization, I have the privilege of being regularly engaged in these types of activities.  This year, we’ve increased our focus on surveying our clients and team members.  I’m always anxious to review the results, because it is inevitably going to expose areas of weakness.  After settling in on the realization that we are far from perfect this transitions into an incredibly useful exercise.  We are consistently able to make positive progress on the one off and trending opportunities for improvement.  While “being perfect” is still elusive, it is satisfying to see how we’re able to raise the bar each and every year. 
In what ways do you participate in either the professional community or your local community to help others?

I have been a member of Vistage International for nearly ten years.  This group has proven to be a great place to not only be invested in but to also have the chance to invest in others. 
What major changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?

I strongly believe the profession will be faced with ever increasing security concerns.  This will force firms who haven’t traditionally paid much attention to security to become much more proactive. 

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

My hope for this industry is that we continue to become more efficient and agile.  There continues to be significant challenges brought on by advances in technology, new legislation, M&A activities, retiring partners and security risks.   I desire for Xcentric to come alongside firms to help carry some of the burden, so that firms can thrive in the midst of these challenges.

What is your career philosophy?

My career philosophy is based on a piece of advise I was once given: always pursue replacing yourself.  This philosophy has been a tremendous asset at Xcentric as it has allowed many very talented people to rise to new heights and gain new responsibilities.  Xcentric would not be the place it is without each of these individuals leaving their mark on our organization. 

Not including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?

I have always appreciated Chick-fil-A but have recently come to admire them in a significant way.  It’s honorable that they have stayed the course and held true to their core values.  I have come to a new appreciation for their benevolence through their non profit foundation, WinShape. 

Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.

While technically not one person, I’m compelled to think of my parents as being my most important mentor.  As a parent of three little ones now, I’m not exactly sure how they did it, but they somehow managed to instill several key values and traits into each of their children.  If you were to unwind the story of each of their now grown children, you would see a reflection of them.  Hopefully without sounding prideful, the four of us has excelled in the areas we’ve chosen to pursue and have done it in such a way that nothing has ever bogged us down too much.  Our parents instilled in us a sense that  nothing is too big to accomplish, a dedication to thinking about others first and, most importantly, a very high sense of doing what’s right at any cost.  They not only set an extremely secure foundation for me to begin life but they have also cheered me on all along the way. 


Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 Honorees.